Vintage: Celebrating 60 Years of the VSCCA
On exhibit NOW-March 24, 2019
Celebrating 60 years of the VSCCA…
The Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA), the oldest vintage sports car club in North America and the wellspring of the American vintage racing movement, turned sixty in 2018. Founded in Boston on the 14th of December in 1958, the club’s activities were in full swing by the following summer with their very first track event, an invitational at the old Thompson Circuit in Connecticut.
The origins for the idea of a VSCCA go back to the founding of the SCCA in 1944 and were finally brought to fruition after a couple of Anglo-American Vintage Car Rallies in the mid-fifties.
The SCCA was founded in Massachusetts in 1944 by a group of sports car enthusiasts who wanted a club dedicated to their cars and to their use. Sports cars in 1944 were, by definition, prewar. Many, like the Duesenberg Model J, were also American.
As the SCCA evolved it outgrew the founders’ dream. It quickly moved from a club about cars to almost a business about drivers and about racing. That wasn’t the original idea but it was working for the SCCA. Some of the founders were a little disappointed that “their” club had ceased to represent the sort of club they had created. They had imagined a more traditional view of a “club,” a gathering of like-minded souls sharing a common interest.
A number of those early SCCA founders were still very active in the automotive world when, in 1954 an opportunity arrived on the horizon in the form of an international letter to a group of US-based vintage car enthusiasts, including several of that very early SCCA crowd. The letter was an invitation from the Vintage Sports Car Club in the United Kingdom, and sponsored by the British Tourist Board for them to field a team of cars to take on the Brits in a rally on their home turf. There would be a series of events scattered along a route that covered a fair bit of dear old Blighty - something like 850 miles as the vintage motor motors. Of course the move from event venue to event venue would be done via the Queen’s highways and in company with like minded British enthusiasts in similar cars. Long Island’s Austin Clark led the American team and as deeply into the organization of the American contingent was one Edgar L. Roy from Boston. Clark was already well known in the old car world. Roy was a master engineer and mechanic, who was already becoming legendary amongst his peers.
The Brits “won” the event but a good time was had by all.
It was such a good time that they decided to do it again, this time on the east coast of the United States. The invitation was duly sent back to the UK and dates were set for the 23rd to the 30th of April in ‘57. The Brits duly arrived and the rally was another glorious success.
The experience for the participants was something they would remember for the rest of their lives. More than that, though, came the realization that the Vintage Sports Car Club in Great Britain (VSCC) had exactly the sort of formula that many had wanted for the SCCA when it was founded in 1944. Ed Roy asked why not create our own Vintage Sports Car Club of America and try to keep it closer to what the cousins on the other side of the pond were doing? Discussions were held, cocktails consumed, cigars were smoked, and an idea took shape. There was a bit of a contest between the Boston contingent and a few from New York to see who might get it done first. The Boston contingent, led by Ed Roy, managed to nail down the name VSCCA and to get the club’s papers in order by late 1958. On December the 14th of that year they met with some invited friends at the Larz Anderson Automotive Museum on the edge of Boston and formally founded the Vintage Sports Car Club of America. The New York crowd, led by Austin Clark and Bob Greer, immediately joined in. Though founded in Boston, the VSCCA was quickly established in the New York Area as well. At the beginning nearly everyone was driving in a prewar car.
The first events included a gathering or two at the Larz Anderson Museum with a hillclimb of sorts up its drive. In the summer of ‘59, barely six months old, the club hosted its first track event at Thompson in Connecticut. Roughly two dozen cars were entered and all were driven to the event. The survivors were also driven home.
The club grew from there with regular events at the Thompson and Bridgehampton circuits. By the mid-sixties Lime Rock Park in Connecticut had come to be the “home” track.
From those earliest days the club’s love of the Prewar car has continued even as it moved and grew to the club we know today.
Today the prewar cars are joined by post war sporting cars including important post war sports cars, like many of the cars in this exhibition, to purpose built racing cars and open wheeled Formula Cars into the early sixties.
In the sixty years of the club to date the founders’ vision has stayed at the forefront, a club of like minded souls sharing a common passion for motor cars. As a result the VSCCA, unlike many of its modern contemporaries, is still not a racing club but is rather a club that races. The cars and the love of them continue as the raison d’etre of the VSCCA.